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Seb25

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tl;dr, I ended up answering my own question, so this is just a story now. Also, I don't currently own a specific gravity meter, and have been guesstimating according to taste, smell and sound. I figure the added accuracy isn't worth the effort when experimenting with one gallon batches.

So, this is my second batch of wine, but my first drinkable batch (if all goes well. The first batch was a test and I didn't use enough fruit, and I didn't degass, so it tastes like sour, watery beer. It's already bottled, but I'll probably pour it out and use the bottles for my second batch) I'm using a one gallon setup, and this batch is made from uh, locally sourced, blackberries. (we've had a lot of rain this year; I'm hoping for a good yield of pecans this fall, and maybe some muscadines if I can find them).

I started my wine in the primary over a week ago, I think. Two days in, I had to go to the hospital, and when I got back a day and a half later, the fermentation had stopped. I added sugar and a bit of yeast, assuming that it was stuck, but it never did restart. (For reference, I cool my room with a window unit A/C, and had opted to leave it running, preferring stuck wine to runaway wine. The A/C doesn't have any temperature control, just a min/max dial, so it basically ran the entire time that I was gone).

So I racked into my secondary. I had a little extra, so I poured it into an unsanitized empty wine bottle that I'd left the cork out of (hoping for some wine vinegar, which is what the bottle smelled like at the time).

After another day and a half, foam was making it's way through my airlock, so I reracked into the primary (sanitizing everything prior). The wine tasted awful at the time, and the alcohol content seemed low, so I added more sugar (I had added maybe two pounds initially; and another two at this point)....

And, I think I just answered my own question. The sugar that I added was converted to alcohol or otherwise absorbed into the wine. I was, being terrible at math, very confused when the wine I'd moved from the secondary into the primary would not all fit back into the secondary.

I poured the extra wine into a lemonade pitcher into which I'd emptied the wine vinegar bottle upon realizing that acetic bacteria needs oxygen to develop. I also added more sugar to the pitcher initially. It is starting to smell like vinegar; and the wine that I just now re-reracked into my secondary has a decent taste; but I may need to sweeten it a bit later on.
 

meadmaker1

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You ve convinced me that you very much need a hydrometer.
They are cheap, and would have told you what was or what had happened.
 

Scooter68

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If you really want to make wine, you need to invest a few dollars. Otherwise you are wasting your time, money and potentially great materials for wine.

As to help from this site, it's pretty difficult/pointless to try help you without some numbers, lbs of fruit used, amount of sugar added, and most importantly SG reading from a hydrometer. Wine making can be simple but if you try to simplify it too much without any experience in wine making, you will end up with undrinkable liquids.

Finally, if you use any container that has had vinegar in it for any part of your wine making, you are going to be making more vinegar NOT wine. Vinegar tainted containers are about the worst thing you can use around your wine making.
 

Seb25

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If you really want to make wine, you need to invest a few dollars. Otherwise you are wasting your time, money and potentially great materials for wine.

As to help from this site, it's pretty difficult/pointless to try help you without some numbers, lbs of fruit used, amount of sugar added, and most importantly SG reading from a hydrometer. Wine making can be simple but if you try to simplify it too much without any experience in wine making, you will end up with undrinkable liquids.

Finally, if you use any container that has had vinegar in it for any part of your wine making, you are going to be making more vinegar NOT wine. Vinegar tainted containers are about the worst thing you can use around your wine making.
I'm just making a few test batches with the yeast that came with my kit. (it came with thee pouches of generic wine yeast). I actually have a scale and a hydrometer already picked out; but until I get more serious they're not a high priority.

I didn't weigh my berries, but I basically filled my entire mesh bag with berries, crushed them, and added some more. I only placed my extra wine in the container with the vinegar, and I did so with the intention of making vinegar. I'm interested in more than winemaking, and when I realized that I would have more wine than I could fit into my secondary, and that I had a wine bottle that smelled like vinegar, I seized the opportunity. The wine in my secondary hasn't had any contact with the vinegar tainted container or the extra wine that I'm making into vinegar.

I appreciate the advice, but I would argue that I'm not wasting my time, money, etc. The blackberries were free, and I've got plenty more in the freezer. The yeast was free, and I'll be picking out my yeast once I've gotten serious. Atm I'm familiarizing myself with temperature, nutrition, and sanitation requirements, and tbh both the wine in my secondary and the vinegar pitcher seem to be coming along fine, based on their respective smells.

I've noticed that when the yeast in the secondary is doing well, the gasses from the airlock smell similar to bananas (and create sulphur and fusel alchohol smells when doing poorly). And my vinegar pitcher is developing a nice, fruity vinegar smell, and I'm hoping it'll be great to cook with. Although, admittedly, I'm somewhat concerned that it may have been better to finish the extra wine in a sanitized secondary and rack a few times in order to clarify it before introducing it to acetic bacteria.

I would note that my recipe, a bit of guesswork, and the natural alcohol resistance of wine yeast, should be enough to net me a stable wine; and I can more or less guess the alcohol concentration from taste. And again, neither my primary, my secondary, or my wine have had any contact with vinegar or vinegar tainted vessels or equipment.

I would also note that wine predates hydrometers by probably thousands of years, so I'm calling bunk on the idea that wine can't be made without a hydrometer.
 

Scooter68

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And I would say that thousands died for thousands of years from food poisoning and diseases because they didn't know better. Point is these tools allow you to KNOW where a wine started and where it's at. Guessing is hit or miss and unless you were raised around wine makers/winery, you may miss some key indications of issues or points where the process is hung or stopped.

I assumed you came to this forum for help and guidance from folks with a little experience in the processes. Calling "Bunk" suggests something different - That being said - good luck to you.
 

meadmaker1

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You can build a house with out a tape measure or a level but the out come would be unpredictably questionable.
Im certain you are learning things about wine making, but what exactly, and can you do it again or prevent some thing from happening again. Currently you have little to no idea what your abv will be, where you are in fermintaion, and we cant suggest any particular help without details.
 

Seb25

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And I would say that thousands died for thousands of years from food poisoning and diseases because they didn't know better. Point is these tools allow you to KNOW where a wine started and where it's at. Guessing is hit or miss and unless you were raised around wine makers/winery, you may miss some key indications of issues or points where the process is hung or stopped.

I assumed you came to this forum for help and guidance from folks with a little experience in the processes. Calling "Bunk" suggests something different - That being said - good luck to you.
Thousands still die from food poisoning today, and alcohols have always been one of the least likely culprits; to the extent that it was substituted for water in colonial America. We're talking 16th century btw, still a century prior to even the invention of hydrometers, much less widespread adoption. And they didn't have access to industrial strength sanitation chemicals either.

As noted in the opening to my post, I worked out what happened before I finished writing. I don't mind advice or constructive criticism but I'll not have a bunch of condescending, uptight, anal retentive gatekeepers looking down their noses at me. I'm here primarily because I enjoy winemaking and similar activities, not because I think I'm part of some elite club.

And for the record, pointing out—and exaggerating the necessity of—basic and obvious practices (that anyone remotely interested in the subject is already well aware of) in order to seem like an authority on the subject comes off as both patronizing and immature, if I'm being completely honest. Haughtily acting as though I'm being insulting for balking such "sagely advice" doesn't really help, either.

+Meadmaker I'm not going to spend to next 50 to 150 years living in my first 5 or so batches of wine. Winemaking is comparable to cooking, not home building. You really need some perspective. Haven't you ever baked a cake without using exact measurements? Did anyone die? Did the cake turn out completely unpalatable? If it did, I'd personally blame you, not the lack of measuring tools.

My abv will either be high enough to stabilize the wine, or it wont, either way, nothing significant is lost, and knowledge and experience are gained. You're acting as though this is a matter of life or death. It's a hobby to kill time with; and you folks really need to pull the sticks out of your collective rear ends, and maybe consider getting your undiagnosed OCD treated at some point.

+Self This seems less about winemaking and more about group dynamics. Many groups are tribal and hostile to outsiders; attempting to dominate any would-be new members. Perhaps I'm expected to play submissive and maintain a pretense of personal inferiority in hopes of gaining acceptance into the group. Though imo the group has little information to offer that I'm not already aware of; conversation could be worthwhile, as a shared interest is involved; but not if the group dynamic is insular and tribal; especially if those in the group believe themselves a kind of elite. Casual collaboration beats militaristic tribalism (the former being usually productive, the latter being pointless ego-fodder and allowing for entrenchment of unproductive hierarchies of status over merit).
 

meadmaker1

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You were given solid advice.
No one minds being questioned about their response but your closed kind makes me wonder why you asked in the first place.
The answer to your question is.

Get a hydrometer and learn how to use it.

Some where else
 

jburtner

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A hydrometer is a simple buoy

https://catalogue.museogalileo.it/indepth/Hydrometer.html

Wine and fermented beverages can certainly be made without knowledge of how much sugar in the liquid and how much might be left.

However, not only is the device very useful it's also very cheap.

Wine is what happens when you let grapes sit around. Once you have the grapes it's harder to not make it than it is to make it. What makes anyone think that the wine from thousands of years ago was any good?

Cheers and good luck!
-jb
 

WinoDave

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tl;dr, I ended up answering my own question, so this is just a story now. Also, I don't currently own a specific gravity meter, and have been guesstimating according to taste, smell and sound. I figure the added accuracy isn't worth the effort when experimenting with one gallon batches.

So, this is my second batch of wine, but my first drinkable batch (if all goes well. The first batch was a test and I didn't use enough fruit, and I didn't degass, so it tastes like sour, watery beer. It's already bottled, but I'll probably pour it out and use the bottles for my second batch) I'm using a one gallon setup, and this batch is made from uh, locally sourced, blackberries. (we've had a lot of rain this year; I'm hoping for a good yield of pecans this fall, and maybe some muscadines if I can find them).

I started my wine in the primary over a week ago, I think. Two days in, I had to go to the hospital, and when I got back a day and a half later, the fermentation had stopped. I added sugar and a bit of yeast, assuming that it was stuck, but it never did restart. (For reference, I cool my room with a window unit A/C, and had opted to leave it running, preferring stuck wine to runaway wine. The A/C doesn't have any temperature control, just a min/max dial, so it basically ran the entire time that I was gone).

So I racked into my secondary. I had a little extra, so I poured it into an unsanitized empty wine bottle that I'd left the cork out of (hoping for some wine vinegar, which is what the bottle smelled like at the time).

After another day and a half, foam was making it's way through my airlock, so I reracked into the primary (sanitizing everything prior). The wine tasted awful at the time, and the alcohol content seemed low, so I added more sugar (I had added maybe two pounds initially; and another two at this point)....

And, I think I just answered my own question. The sugar that I added was converted to alcohol or otherwise absorbed into the wine. I was, being terrible at math, very confused when the wine I'd moved from the secondary into the primary would not all fit back into the secondary.

I poured the extra wine into a lemonade pitcher into which I'd emptied the wine vinegar bottle upon realizing that acetic bacteria needs oxygen to develop. I also added more sugar to the pitcher initially. It is starting to smell like vinegar; and the wine that I just now re-reracked into my secondary has a decent taste; but I may need to sweeten it a bit later on.
I think I get you, sounds like you got some fruit and want to try to make wine experimentally? Wing It? If this is the case I’d use 4-6 pounds of fruit and probably 2-3 pounds of sugar for a 1 gallon batch. Make sure your using good clean water and a clean jug and bottles. Boiling water will sterilize anything. Let it sit in primary 2 full weeks, transfer to another clean jug/container and let it sit 1 month or till clear. Bottle. Wine takes time to mature and develope. I made a blueberry wine last year, taste like sugar water for first 5 months then at month 6 a miracle happened and the blueberry taste came thru. Turned out to be a very good wine. It’s hard to taste as you go with wine.
 

Scooter68

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Collectively this forum has probably at least a couple hundred years in experience and as a group has made thousands of wine batches. Some posters are themselves commercial winemakers or work at wineries, hence they considerable depth of knowledge in both hobby wine making and doing it for a living.

We do NOT agree on many things about wine making, as a simple read of a dozen or so random threads would prove. We experiment, try new products and methods and we complain too.

We are not a tribe and we welcome outsiders. We see common misunderstandings indicated by newcomers and sometimes we even find we have been making less than perfect choices ourselves.

> What we do agree on is that wine making can be lots of fun.
> We generally agree that with very few exceptions, a really good wine takes time, care, and patience (One of my love/hate things).
> We generally agree that keeping track of what you do and what you use, those pesky details that take time to record, can save a lot of headaches and help us and others repeat successful projects.
> And we generally agree that there is a minimum amount of equipment required to make a wine reliably and of decent quality.

When folks take their time to respond to question we try to keep responses a cut above the media discussion threads and civil. We do on a rare occasion fail at that. (I certainly have a few times.)

If you feel offended by some of the comments that's unfortunate but you sort of crossed a line when you were provided a piece of common sense advice and tossed it as "Bunk." In case you haven't noticed since you posted you have not received a great number of responses while other threads are bouncing comments back and forth almost hourly.

You certainly can 'wing it' and certainly a failed wine experiment is not the end of the world. But I would suggest that there is a lot of experience on these boards and a lot of valuable advice to be found. Take it or leave it but dismissing comments on here does not gain you much help or drive folks to spend much time reading and responding.

I'm going to reselect the ignore option for you and this thread because while I am retired, I have other things to do and there are other new folks popping in and out of this forum in need of some help get started in this fun hobby. Have a great day.
 

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